christmas gathering covid

Toronto's top doctor urges people to talk friends out of attending holiday gatherings

As COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb in Toronto and the holidays inch closer, the city's top doctor is urging everyone to speak up in their personal lives and encourage friends and family to make safe, smart decisions when it comes to gatherings.

Speaking during the city's press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Eileen de Villa reported 850 new infections in Toronto, representing yet another record-high daily increase, and she said things will only get worse if residents don't make responsible decisions over the holidays.

"The holidays in 2020 pose a real threat and demand difficult decisions from all of us," she said. "COVID-19 can make things much much worse in Toronto if we make it easy."

Dr. de Villa said there are many risks converging in the holidays this year, including the risk of infection, the risk that infections could turn serious or deadly, and the risk that infections rise so significantly that the healthcare system becomes swamped or overwhelmed.

"Given where we are now, all these things are very real possibilities," she said.

But the greatest risk of all, said Dr. de Villa, is each individual's ability to deny what they don't want to deal with and make irresponsible decisions as a result. 

"I know many of you are acting to protect yourself and the people who matter to you this holiday season," she said."In the coming days, I'm asking all of you who are doing differently over the holidays to lead by example and to speak up."

The doctor said residents in the city who are already making smart decisions and avoiding gatherings with loved ones this holiday season shouldn't just worry about themselves, they should also take the opportunity to encourage people in their lives to do the same.

"Directly encourage the people you know and care about to commit to the same thing: keeping apart for the good of everyone," said Dr. de Villa. "The more voices there are taking a stand, the more impact our resolve will have."

Lead photo by

eric robinson


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